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Water conflict and cooperation

Human population development

Human populations often grow near water sources. More recently, human populations have been developed in arid locations:

  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas

Water Projects

Water projects deliver water from remote locations to arid communities:

Energy and material costs of moving water are significant. Water is sometimes pumped up slope, over hundreds of miles, and from many sources.

Competition and Conflict

Native populations and local residents have historically asserted rights to local water sources. Additionally, water quality can be contentious from downstream communities that feel quality has been degraded by upstream uses.

  • Texas v. Oklahoma – Supreme Court ruled that Texas does not have right to Oklahoma water
  • China – undertaking major projects to convey water from South to North China, large water projects (3 Gorges Dam)
  • Owens Valley – local residents/farmers asserted right to water over Los Angeles
  • United States v. Mexico – Colorado River water is significantly depleted before getting to Mexico
  • Egypt and Ethiopia – Egypt has rights to water superseding water rights in Ethiopia
  • Singapore and Malaysia – Singapore relied on water from Malaysia; focused on water re-use/reclamation (water treated to high level put back in water system), now “water independent”

Cooperation and agreements

Water treaties are created between countries/populations to make agreements about water usage and passage. This brings cooperation between people, nations, etc.

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